Education & Schools
“ALLAMBEE” The Darlington Kindergarten House 1942-1948 - Bernice Hoult;
History of the Helena School (opens a new webpage)
The Darlington Primary School song (mp3 file) - click on the player here
The words and tune was written by Chris Durrant in 1982 (for the school's 70th) and performed here in 2019 by Ms MacKay's Year 1 & 2 classes.
“ALLAMBEE” The Darlington Kindergarten House 1942-1948
During World War Two when there was a possibility of air raids – and an invasion – by the Japanese, it was decided by the Kindergarten Union to find a safe place to which children could be evacuated. A house in Darlington was chosen, and when the threat passed it was decided to retain the house as a holiday home for the children of mothers employed in war work and fathers in the forces. The home was under the supervision of Miss Bernice Hoult, a trained Kindergartener.
The first group of children to use this Kindergarten Holiday Home arrived in June 1942. It was designed to take in children from 3 ½ to 6 years-of-age; they usually stayed for about three weeks. The Home provided a balance between freedom, orderly routine and a healthy diet. Initially, the idea was to give children – who would otherwise be unable to have such a holiday – the opportunity of an independent holiday. This holiday home was run partly by the Union staff, and partly by volunteer workers, two of whom made it their full-time contribution to the war effort. A nominal charge was made for the children according to the parent’s means; it also relied on donations from friends.
In the early development of these Darlington holidays, premises were rented in Lionel Road from owner Arthur Nelson. They could accommodate eleven children, but as the demand increased the Kindergarten Union looked for more permanent premises that could accommodate more children at a time. Accommodation was found in early 1944 on the corner of Glebe and Leithdale Road close to the Train Station. The premises were ideally suited for the purpose, with wide verandahs, a sleepout, a well-equipped kitchen and modern conveniences. The house was built in 1936 by Architect Frederick George Hawkins for his own family, and named “Leithdale”. The Lotteries Commission donated £600, while the Union raised £1320 to purchase the property.
By early September the first intake of children was holidaying at “Allambee”, and on September 30 the property was officially opened by the Minister for Education, Mr Tonkin. It is unclear how long the Holiday Home remained open. Miss Hoult married a local widower, who had two children, in 1947 and had her own child in 1948. It was about this time that publicity to do with the home’s operation ceased. The house was briefly rented before being sold in 1950 to Frank and Ann Day.
An overview of the success of the home was recorded in The West Australian newspaper on June 3, 1948, as follows:
“Since June 1942 when “Allambee”, the Kindergarten Holiday Home opened until the end of last year, 797 children had a holiday there of three weeks each. No youngster was excluded where the parents were unable to pay and it became possible to offer a home to those in the greatest needs.”
Bernice Hoult courtesy L. Evans
Kindergarten certificate for B. Hoult 1935. courtesy L. Evans
[Click to enlarge]
Early Childhood Teacher’ Association - Darlington Holiday Home, Pat O'Sullivan
I well remember, being told in my second year of training, in 1946, that I would be expected to spend my three weeks Spring end of term holiday break, working at the "Holiday Home" in Darlington. This was expected of most students: one had to have a very good reason not to comply.
The "Home" was a large house, designed by an Architect, I believe for himself, which had been bought by The Kindergarten Union to give a holiday to poor children and give their mothers a break from mothering what were often in those days quite large families.
The house was set in the side of a hill on a road just off Darlington Road. One travelled there by train. It was a beautiful house, with glass doors and windows, I think full length, to the North East. I do remember that kookaburras frequently were victims of that glass as they attacked their own reflections and lay stunned on the paved courtyard recovering to stagger about then fly off. There was a clothesline on which they would perch waiting to be hand fed. The front of the house was reached through extensive gardens and was high off the ground. Children often hid under the house and had to be retrieved.
As a student helper, one was worked hard. Dressed by six, the first task was to pot and help dress the children then assist with breakfast. I can remember horrible crusted porridge pots and piles of washing up.
Others will have more accurate memories than I have but I think up to 20 children were at the "Holiday Home" at a time and that their age range was from 3-6 years, with older siblings sometimes coming in the school holidays.
After washing up and bed making the student teacher would take a group of children for games, stories and other such diversions. Lunch followed then afternoon sleep time - for the children.
Afternoon tea of fruit, cake and milk then it was time for a walk, more games, bath, evening meal and bed at around 6 - 6.30pm. Washing up and then - and only then peace! A walk as the sun set was the only diversion as Darlington was a sleepy place with a little post office cum general store, a railway station and a few scattered houses - the rest bush! I can still remember those chilly early mornings and lovely closing dusks as Pat Freund (nee Mills) and I strolled down the road - or up the other way for a change, each evening.
As I remember a very happy hard working kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bernie McKay was in charge. I think she had one regular assistant and a part-time cook. She had three weeks holiday each year when the home closed down. I think it is hard to imagine the conditions under which people worked then. For instance the laundry was of the old fashioned kind with cement wash troughs and a wood fired copper. Children did not have many clothes and those they had were not the easy care fabrics of today. Oh those grey flannel pants and mud encrusted long woollen socks! Washing a tubful by hand on a freezing day was not our favourite chore.
The "Holiday Home" was innovative and like many of the initiatives of the Kindergarten Union/Association/Board set up by caring, thoughtful people who did what they could to mitigate the often harsh conditions in which many children lived.
The "Home" closed finally, perhaps others know the year.
May 1944 West mail photo of Bernice Hoult at Tower House.
F.G.B. Hawkins house, 1936, located on the corner of Glebe and Leithdale Rd, before it became "Allambee"
Trea Wiltshire - First 70 years of Darlington Primary School
We would like to thank Trea and acknowledge her efforts in putting together this book in 1982 to celebrate Darlington Primary School's 70th Anniversary and also for allowing the DHG to put it onto our website. Because of the time that has elapsed some of the photos are not the exact ones used in the original but a close approximation. Read her story which can be viewed by clicking on the pdf icon on the right. The document is 26 pages long.
Diana Warnock - Helena School memoirs
Diana's story comprises 27 pages and includes many photographs . A very interesting read, it details the part of her life that was connected with her schooling at 'Helena School' in Darlington and the time she lived there during the 1940's and 1950's. Her family, memories and her thoughts are of that time. Read her story which can be viewed by clicking on the pdf icon on the right.